Michigan Nursing Care Benefits

The Michigan Supreme Court first addressed nursing care benefits in Kushay v. Sexton Dairy Co, 394 Mich. 69; 228 N.W.2d 205 (1975), in which the claimant totally and permanently injured himself, thus being forced to spend about ninety percent of his time in bed. Kushay, supra n 4 at 72. Daisy Kushay, the claimant's wife, helped him with a variety of daily tasks, including bathing, dressing, medication, using the bathroom, driving him to appointments, and performing other personal care services, but the WCAB concluded that those efforts were simply things that a "dutiful wife" would ordinarily do for her husband and denied nursing benefits. Kushay, 394 Mich. at 71, 73. Construing MCL 418.315; MSA 17.237(315), which allows a spouse to recover the cost of "reasonable medical, surgical and hospital services and medicines or other attendance or treatment" that an injured worker needs, the Kushay Court rejected the WCAB's conclusion and stated: Kushay, 394 Mich. at 71, 73. the language of the statute, "reasonable medical, surgical and hospital services and medicines or other attendance or treatment," focuses on the nature of the service provided, not the status or devotion of the provider of the service. Under the statute, the employer bears the cost of medical services, other attendance and treatment. If services within the statutory intendment are provided by a spouse, the employer is obligated to pay for them. Ordinary household tasks are not within the statutory intendment. House cleaning, preparation of meals and washing and mending of clothes, services required for the maintenance of persons who are not disabled, are beyond the scope of the obligation imposed on the employer. Serving meals in bed and bathing, dressing, and escorting a disabled person are not ordinary household tasks. That a "conscientious" spouse may in fact perform these services does not diminish the employer's duty to compensate him or her as the person who discharges the employer's duty to provide them. Under the statute it is the employer's duty to provide medical services "or other attendance or treatment . . . when they are needed." Kushay, 394 Mich. at 74-75.